Thomas Bach delivered a video message to the Panam Sports Women in Sport Conference ©IOC

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach has commended Panam Sports and its member federations for the Women in Sport Conference which began today and finishes tomorrow to coincide with International Women's Day.

Bach appeared remotely to deliver a video message at the event which is taking place in Panama City, praising efforts made by National Olympic Committees in the Americas to advance gender equality and safe sport.

"As sports organisations, we have an important responsibility to lead by example," he said.

"With this seminar, Panam Sports is doing exactly that - leading by example and demonstrating your commitment to advance gender equality in sport.

"Whether it is encouraging women to take on leadership roles, empowering girls through sport, ensuring safe sport through robust safeguarding systems – in these and many other areas, you are already making great progress."

The event is being attended by deputy chair of the IOC's Gender Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Commission Prince Feisal Al Hussein and United Nations women's regional director for the Americas and the Caribbean María-Noel Vaeza.

The Panam Sports Women in Sport Conference  aims to advance gender equality and safe sport in the region ©IOC
The Panam Sports Women in Sport Conference aims to advance gender equality and safe sport in the region ©IOC

It aims to provide an opportunity to bring the region's sporting community together to exchange best practices in areas such as safe sport, how to address gender-based violence, and removing gender bias in the media.

Bach also highlighted efforts made by the IOC in recent years to achieve gender equality, including the increase of the number of female IOC members which has risen from 21 to 40 per cent since 2013.

"Despite this progress, we are not there yet," he said.

"Gender equality does not just magically happen.

"As your seminar theme highlights, we need everyone to 'join the road to change'.

"On this road to change, your seminar is an important step.

"It is a great opportunity to proactively address gender gaps - on and off the field of play, among the athletes' entourage, among coaches and officials - and wherever else they may persist."

Bach is currently on a tour of the Caribbean, attending the inauguration of the Centro Caribe Sports headquarters in the Dominican Republic, however arriving in Puerto Rico for a visit to coincide with the Puerto Rico National Olympic Committee's 75th anniversary.